Article by Sandra Ingerman
In Shamanism it is believed that whenever we suffer an emotional or physical trauma a part of our soul departs the body in order to survive the experience. The definition of soul that I am using is that soul is our essence, life force, the part of our vitality that keeps us alive and thriving.
The types of trauma that could cause soul loss in our culture would be any kind of abuse – sexual, physical, or emotional. Other causes could be any type of an accident, being in a war, being a victim of a terrorist act, acting against our morals, being in a natural disaster (a fire, hurricane, earthquake, tornado, etc.), surgery, addictions, divorce, or death of a loved one. Any event that causes shock could cause soul loss. And what might cause soul loss in one person might not cause soul loss in another.
It is important to understand that soul loss is a good thing that happens to us. It is how we survive pain. If I was going to be in a head on car collision the last place that I would want to be at the point of impact is in my body. My psyche could not endure that kind of pain. So our psyches have this brilliant self protect mechanism where a part of our essence or soul leaves the body so that we do not feel the full impact of the pain.
In psychology we call this disassociation. But in psychology we don’t talk about what disassociates and where that part goes. In shamanism we understand that a piece of the soul energy leaves the body.
Although soul loss is a survival mechanism the problem from a shamanic point of view is that the soul part that left usually rarely comes back on its own. The soul might be lost, or stolen by another person, or doesn’t know the trauma has passed and it is safe to return.
It is the role of the shaman to go into an altered state of consciousness and track down where the soul fled to in the alternate realities and return it to the body of the client.
There are many common symptoms of soul loss. Some of the more common ones would be dissociation where a person does not feel fully in his or her body and alive and fully engaged in life. Other symptoms include chronic depression, suicidal tendencies, post traumatic stress syndrome, immune deficiency problems, and grief that just does not heal. Addictions are also a sign of soul loss as we seek external sources to fill up the empty spaces inside of us whether through substances, food, relationships, work, or buying material objects.
Anytime someone says I have never been the same since a certain event and they don’t mean this in a good way soul loss has probably occurred.
Coma is also soul loss. But in coma there is more of the soul out of body than in the body. Coma is very complicated to work with today for many reasons. It takes skill on behalf of the shaman to find out which way the soul is trying to go. Does the soul want to reenter the body or does it need help transcending which would lead to the death of the patient? There is a lot to say about this topic and it beyond the scope of this article.
It is interesting to note that as soul loss was so understood in shamanic cultures people who suffered traumas were given a soul retrieval within three days after a trauma occurred.
Today as we have not been practicing soul retrieval modern day practitioners are going back ten, twenty, thirty, or forty years or even more looking for lost soul parts.
Also in a shamanic culture the individuals knew what was out of balance in their lives that might have caused an illness or issue to occur.
In our culture we are unaware of what is out of spiritual harmony that is creating illness. And because often our soul loss happened so young we are unaware of the unconscious patterns we are living out due to our first experience of soul loss. We are always trying to retrieve our soul. And how we do this is by repeating the same trauma over and over again. The names might change of the people involved in our life story, but the story is often the same.
The effects of having a soul retrieval vary person to person. Some people feel that they are more grounded in their body and feel more solid. Some people feel lighter and a joyful way of being returns to them. For some memories of the past traumas might be triggered bringing up a variety of feelings that must be worked through. And for some people the effects are too subtle to notice a change until further work to integrate the soul is done.
As people feel more present in their bodies and in the world they become more conscious of behavior that might be out of balance and disharmonious. When we are numb we might be aware that things in the world are not right but we can easily distract ourselves from feeling a need to change. When we are fully “inspirited” there is no place to retreat to and we are more inspired to change our lives.